Waste Connections, the company that owns the JED landfill east of St. Cloud, has yet to finalize a deal it reached with Osceola County to stop the importation of coal ash from Puerto Rico.
Last week, private engineers and attorneys working for the county told the County Commission that they had reached a deal with landfill officials to halt shipments of the coal ahead of its October deadline.
But last week came and went without Waste Connections signing off on the deal with the county.
Attorney Brian Accardo with an attorney with Manson, Boles, Donaldson and Varn told the commission on Aug. 5 that the company agreed to stop the shipments at a meeting Aug. 2.
“We talked about how on Aug. 2 we had a meeting and they made that commitment to us. So following (last week’s) meeting, we drafted a draft termination agreement and sent it to the attorney’s for the landfill. And on Friday, I was told that it’s being reviewed by their corporate office, so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to wrap that up soon,” Accardo told the commission Monday.
Engineer Troy Hays with Jones Edmunds told the commission that 135,000 tons of coal ash from Puerto Rico has been dumped at the JED landfill, excluding coal ash from other parts of the U.S. and Florida.
Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb said she attended the latest meetings between the county and Waste Connections, and that the delay was a matter of bad weather and logistical problems.
Grieb said the termination agreement can’t be signed until the JED landfill receives the last shipment from Puerto Rico.
“It’s not theirs until it’s on their property. It’s a matter of waiting for last trucks to come in,” Grieb said. “I could get an email anytime saying ‘it’s done.’”
County Manager Don Fisher said that Waste Connections agreed to reduce the amount of coal ash coming into Osceola County from 200,000 tons to 160,000 tons.
“They made a commitment to reduce the amount of tonnage by approximately 60,000 tons,” Fisher said. “We’re within days of them finishing taking in the imported coal ash. He added that other coal ash can still enter the landfill, per the new agreement, just not coal ash from Puerto Rico.”
Protests against the coal ash dumping have raged on since April, when the county agreed to allow the landfill to take in the coal ash from Puerto Rico. No Coal Ash in our Trash! Osceola Fights Back! group has organized much of the backlash.
“The main concern is that obviously the people are asking for a date and it sounds to me like you really don’t have an idea at all to know whether or not this is really going to stop,” said Commissioner Peggy Choudhry. “I don’t really understand why it takes so long for the documentation to be produced. When (Waste Connections) needs something quickly, I’m sure they get it done.”
For now, the county and protestors are waiting on Waste Connections to make the next move.